The garden is finally reaching full production after our slow cool start. Cukes, squash, cabbage, chard, and herbs are abundant, and our first picking of beans is imminent. Unfortunately, the tomatoes are not yet ripening, but the vines are loaded with green fruit, and the same goes for the peppers in the hoophouse. We have recently been getting some needed rain, and this is proving to be a booster for production.
My favorite zucchini, Costata Romanesca, is not letting me down. The plant is providing me with 2-3 squashes a week, perfect if I pick them while young. And mostly I do, but sometimes, you just miss one, because as you can see in the photo on the left, the fruits look very similar to the stems. The one pictured is the perfect size for 2 squash lovers. The plant also produces copious amounts of male blossoms for stuffing and frying. Dan and I are trying to ignore that option, due to the caloric overload, but the temptation is very very strong.
We are also enjoying lots of Flying Saucers patty pan squash. These are also best when picked small, but as they are prolific, sometimes you cannot keep up. Fortunately, I have nearby friends and family who have yet to begin locking their car doors. I think this would be a good variety to introduce to kids because of its funky shape and firm texture. I know when younger I was not a fan of my mother’s (IMO) overcooked, limp yellow crookneck squash.
I block planted the Royal Burgundy beans near the fence to the chicken run, adding some protection along the fence to keep the hungry hens from poking their heads through the fence and eating the young tender plants. Now that the plants are older and beginning to bear, the plants near the fence are growing through the wire and the hungry hens are jumping up to reach the leaves and the dangling tasty young beans. Chickens are a lot smarter than popular culture would have you believe. Fortunately it is just a few and Dan and I find it so amusing to watch that we are letting them go for it.
The broccoli, although looking a bit ragged, continues to produce enough side shoots for a meal a week, so it is staying for now. It has totally earned its keep this year. I have some fall broccoli and cauliflower seedlings sown, so when they are ready to transplant the broccoli will come out.
My first sowing of Socrates cucumbers in the hoophouse is slowly succumbing to bacterial wilt from the damn striped cucumber beetles. These cold-tolerant cukes were a great choice for early planting as they did very well in our cool spring. We were eating cukes before I saw many in the farmer’s markets. I need to pull the plants soon, though, to discourage the beetles from attacking the next door melon, although it is probably too late. I am growing the cukes and melons vertically to save space, which makes it impossible to use floating row cover for beetle control once the plants begin to climb. The melon has some fruit set so I am hoping for the best as melon is one of my favorite fruits, but it will be a race to see if the melon ripens before the wilt kills the plant. With luck, pulling the dying cukes will give the melon some respite. I have second and third sowings of cukes in the main garden beginning to produce so I will continue to have lots of cukes for fresh eating and perhaps experimenting with some new pickle recipes.
The pole beans are just beginning to bear, about 2 weeks later than I had hoped. I believe this is due to early munching by what I think must have been a rabbit. Once the beans recovered, they quickly covered the remesh cages we made for them, and are growing out the tops. I think in future years it will be worth constructing some type of cage extension. I had hoped to space out the pole and snap beans to extend the season but we will enjoy them nonetheless, and are planning on canning more of our favorite dilly beans, and freezing the excess for use in soups. I may also can some vegetable soup if I ever get any tomatoes.
The potatoes are looking good and appear to be very appreciative of the recent rain. They have overgrown their space and fallen into the row as they seem to do every year. I have remesh left from my purchase, so I think I might try to construct cages for the potatoes as Mike did to keep them off the ground and out of the row. I think my cages will be shorter to allow me to better reach the plants to add mulch. The bucket in the photo was for a sprinkler to water the potatoes. My sprinkling worked, because since then, we’ve had several good drenching rains which benefited the entire garden.
Hiding amidst the potatoes and weeds in the path I have a friend. Can you see it in the photo? It is a large, apparently well-fed toad. I am so happy to be hosting a toad, I suggested that he or she invite friends and family as there are plenty of slugs and snails to go around.
The tomatoes have formed a verdant wall towering above my head. How do you know you’ve over-planted tomatoes? When you find a bird’s nest in one of the plants. Stay tuned for details in the next installment.